Space cleaning and decluttering - 10 tips

Space cleaning and decluttering - 10 tips

Spring is a great time to declutter and start fresh. Some people are motivated to clean when there is too much stuff around and you just can not find anything. I am usually inspired by the beautiful minimalist homes in the magazines and stories of how others pack all their belongings into one suitcase for yearlong overseas travel. When you are living with little kids, pets, and family members who do not always share the same cleaning habit, it is just harder to get out of the constant chaos. 

spring cleaning

Here are the 10 tips to help you declutter, bring in some good energy, and still suit your lifestyle.

1. Less stuff equals less organization and more clarity. 

Before we dive into cleaning and dusting, we should look at the big picture. Can we let go of most of the stuff we own? Why do we still keep them if we rarely use them? If you have ever read Marie Kondo's book (affiliate link): The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, you know that is the core concept and the easiest way to keep your house clean. Own less stuff helps you free up your space and energy. If you are not using something on a regular basis, be brave and get rid of it instead of cleaning and organizing with more supplies and shelves. 

For many people, letting go is very difficult. You might have to dig deeper to let the past go and welcome the new future.

2. Donate, sell, recycle and reuse

After you decide what to keep in your current time period and living space, time to distribute the rest of stuff to people who can appreciate and use. Discard the broken and worn out pieces, and donate or recycle the usable ones. Use donation boxes, charity, or give to your friends who can enjoy the items. 

If the item has a higher monetary value, you can sell online or locally such as eBay, craigslist, or other second-hand stores. The act of selling or donating gives the old item a new life. Instead of collecting dust in the storage, it is better to pass the item to someone who can treasure it.

Recycle or upcycle means use an item in a creative way and bring it to a new life. A mug can be a pencil holder, a sweater can be turned into a pillowcase, an old drawer can become a planter. There is a lot of ideas online (for example, Pinterest or youtube) if you don't mind a little tinkering.

3. Capsule wardrobe and capsule everything

I love the concept of a capsule wardrobe - keep a small quantity of clothing and they match one another to reflect your style. It saves the closet space, headache to find a matching outfit, and save money from constant buying new garments. The key is to constant editing your "collection" according to the season and personal taste. Because you only own a few (maybe less than 20 pieces totally), you can go for good quality that lasts longer. 

With the same concept, we can capsulize everything - book collection, makeup or body care collection, kitchen appliance, hobby supplies, electronics, toys..... When we reduce our collection to a manageable size, we are calmer and in control. We can also cherish everything we have more.

4. Do not compare to what others have, but do know what you truly love.

One trap in our modern society is to compare ourselves to others. It looks nice to have the latest, biggest, and the fanciest toy or "stuff" whether it is a house, car, furniture, equipment, handbag, shoes and so on, but it just makes us sad if don't have it or can not afford it. The truth is that is most likely not even something we truly want or love. 

Comparison distracts us and often makes us depressed. Instead, we should focus on what really makes us happy and what reflects our personality and taste. Consider activities and experiences that make memory instead of shiny items to display.

5. Get everyone on board

If you are the only one cleaning and other family members are making a mess all the time, you will soon be so frustrated and burned out. Everyone in the household needs to be on the same page about tidying up, and have assigned cleaning chores. If kids can put away toys after they are done playing, it is one less thing to worry about. Keeping a clean space is a long-term project and needs the commitment of everyone in the same house. 

6. Space cleaning with light, sound, smell, and incense

Space cleaning can be more than with just the detergent or broom. Think about our five senses, use light, sound, smell or incense to fill a room with new energy. Open up the windows and let in the sunlight and fresh air. Add lighting to dark hallway or closet. Play your favorite music and let the vibration of the sound fill up space. Cook fresh herbs on a stove to fill the room with a wonderful smell. Light up candle or incense as a ritual to clear out negative energy. Display beautiful art that is inspiring to look at. 

7. Balance the 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) in the house

Along the line of the previous tip, you can bring in these items to bring lively energy to space.

- Live plants and flowers: Live plants belong to the Earth and Wood element, and help the quality of the air, and uplift our mood.

- Fountain or aquarium: Water element is a symbol of money and Qi flow. Make sure the fishes and plants are healthy and the water flows into the house and not out of the house.

- Sunlight, candlelight, or fireplace: They belong to the Fire element and bring vitality and warmth to the room.

- Metal element or silver/golden color: Golden and Silver color are typical Metal element colors. Furniture, shelve, hardware, or decoration made of metal is also an option to bring more Metal element into the room.

The point is to have a balanced five elements in a space. Play with a combination of the objects until the energy feels right to you. 

8. Be aware of the synthetic and plastic materials. Choose green and natural.

Plastic is convenient, cheap and has its place, but too much plastic is toxic to our health and not very environmentally friendly. If you have a choice, pick natural material such as wood, glass or metal. It will look nicer, last longer, and easier to clean. I switched most of my kitchen containers to glass. Plastic reacts to heat and acid no matter how food safe the manufacturer claims.

Choose green, natural products if you can. It instantly makes your room look less cheap.

9. Be aware of the labels. Go with the basic and neutral.

Lable of any product sends out a signal directly to your head. We usually live with thousands of labels that are clashing with each other and clutter up our space unconsciously. To get in control of all the noise and live a peaceful life, here are some ideas to try.

- Remove all labels, or refill in a new container with simple hand labeling.

- Shop the basic store without too many labels such as IKEA or Muji.

- Turn the labels side to the back so you don't see that. Some people put books backward so you don't see the book spine. It makes the room look a lot cleaner.

- Buy basic, neutral color so everything matches easily. White, grey, cream, brown are easy to match your decor if you do not have a color scheme in mind. 

10. Design your lifestyle first and then design your house accordingly

Ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you want to have, and then you will know how to design your living space. Do you enjoy cooking, entertaining, book reading, or any hobby that requires space and equipment? You can focus on one area such as kitchen, living room, study room or office and know what is important to you has been taken care of first.

If the house does not reflect who you are, even the million dollar designer house cannot make you happy. Be true and honest with yourself, and adapt to the changes life brings us. Decluttering is a habit and not a one-time project. Be patient and stay positive, you will be closer to your dream house one day at a time.